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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Incidence, Epidemiological Factors, Pathologic Findings, Mechanism (pathophysiology), ManagementPrevention

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) refers to the sudden unexpected death of an infant under the age of one year who prior to the event was considered to be completely healthy. The diagnosis also requires that a review of the clinical and environmental history, death scene investigation, and autopsy fail to reveal an alternative explanation of the death. In other words, the diagnosis of SIDS remains a diagnosis of exclusion.

Although a definitive cause of SIDS remains unknown and there are no methods to predict which infants will die from SIDS, parents should be educated about strategies that will lessen the likelihood of a SIDS event. Parents should be advised to place infants on their backs for sleeping, provide a firm mattress, avoid loose clothing and blankets in the crib, avoid overheating their infant, breast-feed, and take their infant for regular medical care.


American Academy of Pediatrics. "Changing Concepts of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Implications for Infant Sleeping Environment and Sleep Position." Pediatrics 105 (2000):650-656.

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Distinguishing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome from Child Abuse Fatalities." Pediatrics 107 (2001):437-441.

Back to Sleep Campaign. "Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)" (brochure). Washington, DC: Back to Sleep Campaign, 1994.

Butlerys, Marc G., Sander Greenland, and Jess Kraus. "Chronic Fetal Hypoxia and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Interaction between Maternal Smoking and Low Hematocrit during Pregnancy." Pediatrics 86 (1990):535-540.

Hunt, Carl E., guest ed. "Apnea and SIDS" (special issue). Clinics in Perinatology 19, no. 4 (1992).

Hunt, Carl E. "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome." In Waldo E. Nelson ed., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1996.

Jeffery, Heather, Angelique Megevand, and Megan Page. "Why the Prone Position Is a Risk Factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome." Pediatrics 104 (1999):263-269.

Klonoff-Cohen, Hillary S., Sharon L. Edelstein, Ellen Lefkowitz, Indu P. Srinivasan, and David Kaegi. "The Effect of Passive Smoking and Tobacco Exposure through Breast Milk on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome." Journal of the American Medical Association 273 (1995):795-798.

Malloy, Michael H., and Daniel H. Freeman. "Birth Weight and Gestational Age-Specific Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Mortality: United States, 1991 versus 1995." Pediatrics 105 (2000):1227-1231.

Carol A. Miller

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